08/11/2005, 00.00
INDIA
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Biggest Bible on display at the Chennai Book Fair

by Nirmala Carvalho

Chennai (AsiaNews) – What weighs seven kilos (15 pounds), has 3,500 pages and is written in Tamil? The world's biggest Bible does and it is currently on display at the International Christian Book Fair which is being held from August 9 to the 16 in the city of Chennai, in the south-eastern state of Tamil Nadu. Up to now, the biggest Bible was an edition published in the USA in 1884; it, too, is on display at the Chennai Book Fair.

The new, mega-size Bible was put together by 3,014 people, including some Bollywood stars and Indian politicians like India's Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram.

Although the books have a Christian theme, people from different religious backgrounds are coming to the Book Fair, going from stand to stand, perusing the texts.

Visitors can view Bibles in different shapes and forms. One edition—on display in the miniature Bibles section—is so small that one needs a magnifying glass to read it.

Beyond the curios and the unusual, "the International Christian Book Fair offers an opportunity for larger segments of India's pluralistic society to know more about the Christian religion, its history, philosophy and literature and liturgy," said Fr Babu Joseph Karakombil, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, in an interview with AsiaNews.

"The wealth of knowledge the displayed Texts make available to all sections of society will expose readers to the richness of the Christian contribution to humankind," he added.

"If regularly organised", he stressed, "such book fairs will provide an opportunity for interaction among Christians of various denominations and with people of other communities of India. Given the diversity of cultures and religious beliefs in Indian society, the International Christian Book Fair will serve as a platform for people to broaden their vision of Christianity. University students will also greatly benefit from the vast array of classic literature on display in their research work."

Regarding the Finance Minister's help in making the mega Bible, Father Karakombil said: "I am especially pleased that [. . .] Mr Chidambaran was among the notable contributors. Indian society is secular and this was enshrined in the Constitution of India by her Founding Fathers. Politicians have a duty to ensure the separation between state and religion and protect our secular values and social structures. With politicians at such forums, positive signals are sent to society; it shows that they are committed to maintaining and promoting the secular credentials of our society."

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